Saturday, March 25, 2017

Wolf Weekly Wrap Up

Wildlife Services' Kill Tally is In
M-44 cyanide land mine
We've just learned Wildlife Services' 2016 kill count and the numbers are staggering. This rogue program inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture killed more than 2.7 million animals last year including 415 gray wolves, 997 bobcats and 76,963 coyotes mostly at the behest of the ranching industry. Read on to learn more about what we're doing to stop this cruel slaughter. --Kierán

Stop the use of deadly M-44 cyanide land mines with a gift to the Predator Defense Fund today.  
Heartbreaking news out of Oregon: A young male wolf known as OR-48 just died an agonizing death after taking the scented bait from a cyanide trap put out by federal wildlife-killers.

These sweet-smelling capsules called M-44s deliver a fatal dose of poison to the face or inside the mouth -- suffering no animal should have to endure.

These horrific deaths have to be stopped. Please consider giving to the Center's Predator Defense Fund as we take on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services.

Wildlife Services is the shadowy program that kills millions of animals each year. Its cyanide devices kill thousands of animals annually, including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bears, wolves and even family pets.

OR-48 was only two years old. It's likely he was striking out on his own in search of a mate and a new territory -- his chance to help wolves recover in the state.

His death is a tragedy for him and his six-member Shamrock pack -- and for all the wolves struggling for a foothold in the West Coast.

The Center has been fighting Wildlife Services for years, not only over how many millions of animals they kill annually, but over the cruel killing methods they use, including body-crushing traps, poisons and aerial gunning. We and our allies helped stop them from using M-44s on public lands in Idaho in 2015 -- and with your support, we plan to do it again. 

Please take a moment to donate to our Predator Defense Fund. We can't stop -- we won't stop -- until this wildlife-killing program is dismantled. Stop the use of deadly M-44 cyanide land mines with a gift to the Predator Defense Fund today.

Senate Approves Slaughter in Alaska Wildlife Refuges

Senate Republicans this week passed a resolution to strip federal safeguards from wolves, bears and other predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, allowing the unsportsmanlike killing of wolves and their pups in their dens and the gunning down of bears and their cubs at bait stations.

Joint Resolution 69, passed on Tuesday, repealed protections put in place by the Obama administration in 2016.

"This isn't hunting -- it's slaughter," said Brett Hartl with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Killing wolves and bears in this cruel fashion is outrageous, especially in national wildlife refuges. Repealing protections also undermines predators' critical ecosystem role. The Center will continue its fight to defend these important animals."

Read more in The Huffington Post.
The Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule is under siege, and the consequences could be dire for bears and wolves in the state.

You may have heard about H.J. Res. 69, a dangerous bill that jeopardizes bears, wolves and other carnivores by tossing out the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule. This legislation is set to hit the Senate floor any day now, and its enactment could have drastic implications for wildlife in Alaska and public lands management nationwide.

The Low-Down on H.J. Res 69

H.J. Res. 69 would overturn the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule, which the Obama administration issued last year to conserve native carnivores, including bears, wolves and their young, on as many as 76 million acres of national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The timing of when this rule was finalized matters significantly, as its fate is now subject to the Congressional Review Act (CRA)—you can read more about that here.
Legislators and their special interest allies already jammed H.J. Res. 69 through the House of Representatives, despite strong bipartisan opposition that labeled it as “The Killing Baby Animals in Alaska Act.” The Senate is currently considering whether to bring this harmful bill up for a vote.

Threatening Wildlife in Their Home

Without the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule in place, the state of Alaska could pursue its scientifically indefensible predator control program on these federal lands. This controversial program allows the killing of mother bears and their cubs, killing wolves and their pups in their dens, and trapping, baiting and using airplanes to scout and shoot bears. The state’s goal is to drive down carnivore numbers to artificially inflate populations of game species.
H.J. Res. 69 would also undermine traditional wildlife management principles and federal oversight of federal public lands which could have implications beyond Alaska.

Congress’ War on Wildlife and Public Lands

H.J. Res. 69 is just one of a slew of recent attacks by Congressional lawmakers against the very nature of our how our public lands—and the wildlife they support—are managed. Simply put, some legislators want to give away federal control of federal lands and resources to the states. Throwing out the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule would undermine management of wildlife refuges in Alaska and encourage further efforts by Congress and special interest groups to sell off and sell out our public lands and resources across the country.
These continued attacks on our federal public lands threaten the sound conservation and ecological health of these wild places, and instead subjects them, and the iconic and imperiled species they support, to the whims of special interests and the limitations of individual states to address their complex oversight.

We Must Act NOW

Our nation’s public lands are the envy of the world, and every American has an ownership stake and right to enjoy them. They are our lands; they provide vital habitat for wildlife, conserve watersheds, offer innumerable recreational opportunities, and generate billions of dollars in annual sustainable economic activity. H.J. Res 69 is offensive to these public values.

Sign our petition now and tell your Senator that you oppose H.J. Res. 69. 

A vote in the Senate is imminent—don’t wait, act now!

Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the status of other developments important to wildlife conservation and our work. Don’t forget to sign up for our emails where you will get all the latest news and action alerts to support wildlife.

The post Carnivores in the Crosshairs appeared first on Defenders of Wildlife Blog.
Your weekly roundup of wildlife news from across the country.
Don’t miss your shot to be featured!
Defenders’ 8th annual photo contest ends on Friday, March 24th! You can submit six images into the different categories. Don’t forget to check out the list of 25 key species and 15 focal landscapes that we are especially interested in!

Learn more about the photo contest and see who won last year >>>

LWCF funding affected by new budget.
Despite bi-partisan legislation introduced by Senator Burr (R, NC) and Senator Cantwell (D, WA) last week, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) could lose 70% of its funding as part of the newly proposed budget.

Read more about the importance of LWCF >>>

A wildlife shop of horrors?
USFWS has a property repository of confiscated items that included shipments full of illegal wildlife products, like a taxidermic Hawksbill Sea Turtle which is an endangered species.

Find out more about illegal wildlife products seized entering the US >>>

The National Wildlife Refuge System turned 114!
On March 14th, the National Wildlife Refuge System celebrated one hundred and fourteen years. Today it spans 850 million acres, including seven marine national monuments, 566 national wildlife refuges, and 38 wetlands management districts.

Check out some amazing images celebrating this milestone >>>

Great news for Cownose Ray!
Thanks to our coalition efforts, the MD cownose ray bill passed the House of Delegates this afternoon 119-21!

Read more about this important state legislation >>> 

California’s first wolf family in over a century may lose key protections. That is, if livestock industry groups get their way. But wolves have a good lawyer.  
Shasta Pack
Four conservation groups filed a motion today to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to remove California Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. The lawsuit, against the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and wrongly alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection. 
Map of California.
Map of California.
Before wolves began to return to California in late 2011, it had been almost 90 years since a wild wolf was seen in the state.

The intervenors—the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Cascadia Wildlands and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center—are represented by Earthjustice.

“Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit is baseless,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “Gray wolves were senselessly wiped out in California and deserve a chance to come back and survive here. We’re intervening to defend the interests of the vast majority of Californians who value wolves and want them to recover.”

Brought on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, the lawsuit alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection because wolves returning to the state are supposedly the wrong subspecies, which only occurred intermittently in California at the time of the decision and are doing fine in other states.

Each of these arguments has major flaws. UCLA biologist Bob Wayne found that all three currently recognized subspecies of wolves occurred in California. Also—importantly—there is no requirement that recovery efforts focus on the same subspecies, rather than just the species. The fact that wolves were only intermittently present actually highlights the need for their protection, and the California Endangered Species Act is rightly focused on the status of species within California, not other states.  

“The gray wolf is an icon of wildness in the American West, and its return to California after almost 100 years is a success story we should celebrate,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. “Stripping wolves of protection under the California Endangered Species Act at this early stage in their recovery risks losing them again, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

Led by the Center, the four intervening groups petitioned for endangered species protections for wolves in February 2012. After receiving two California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports, scientific peer review assessment of those reports, thousands of written comments submitted by the public and live testimony at multiple public meetings, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect gray wolves in June 2014.

State protection makes it illegal to kill a wolf, including in response to livestock depredations—a major issue for the livestock industry. But despite the industry’s concerns, a growing body of scientific evidence shows nonlethal deterrence measures are more effective and less expensive than killing wolves. In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been allocated federal funding that can be used for nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures and to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves, which make up a very small fraction of livestock losses. 

“The cattle industry has made clear that it views wolves as pests and that they filed suit to allow killing of wolves,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Wolves are a vital part of American’s wilderness and natural heritage, helping to restore balance to our ecosystems by regulating elk and deer populations. The path to restoring wolves is through protecting fragile recovering populations.”
Wolf pups in the Shasta pack.
Wolves once ranged across most of the United States, but were trapped, shot and poisoned to near extirpation largely on behalf of the livestock industry. Before wolves began to return to California in late 2011—when a single wolf from Oregon known as wolf OR-7 ventured south—it had been almost 90 years since a wild wolf was seen in the state. Before OR-7 the last known wild wolf in California, killed by a trapper in Lassen County, was seen in 1924.

Since 2011, California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the seven-member Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County in 2015, and a pair of wolves was confirmed in Lassen County in 2016. An additional radio-collared wolf from Oregon has crossed in and out of California several times since late 2015. Read the legal document.
The U.S. Senate has joined the House and voted to clear the way for the state of Alaska to authorize extreme killing methods such as shooting mother bears with cubs and killing wolves with pups on public lands that belong to all of us.
This is a disgraceful setback for wolves and other wildlife you love.
Not even a year has passed since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued regulations to prevent Alaska's excessive attacks on predators on national wildlife refuges. But in this extreme anti-wildlife environment, wolves, bears and other wildlife we love...have lost.
Congress used an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act to nullify the FWS protections. And Don, it shows there are no depths these people will not go to greenlight the most appalling anti-wildlife acts. Further, discarding this rule could slam the door on future regulations that aim to conserve these animals on refuge lands.
Now Alaska national wildlife refuges could be open for the state to allow:
  • Killing wolves and pups during the spring and summer "denning" season;
  • Gunning down mother bears and their cubs;
  • Baiting and snaring bears and their cubs; and
  • Using airplanes to scout and shoot bears.
And why? To artificially inflate populations of game animals for hunting.